'British diet' is sending us to an early grave, researchers say

‘British diet’ staples like white bread, butter, jam, fruit juice and chocolate are sending us to an early grave, researchers warn

  • Experts have identified the staples that make the ‘British diet’ so deadly and fuel heart disease
  • The worst culprits include sweetened drinks and table sugar as well as white bread, chocolate and butter 
  • Researchers from the University of Oxford analysed data on 116,806 individuals in the UK

They are the food favourites found in fridges and cupboards all over Britain.

But white bread, butter, jam, fruit juice and chocolate are sending us to an early grave.

Experts have identified the staples that make the ‘British diet’ so deadly. They also include sugar sweetened drinks and table sugar. 

The researchers from the University of Oxford warn such products are high in calories, fat and sugar and low in fibre and fuel heart disease. 

They analysed data on 116,806 individuals in the UK who recorded what they ate for a few days and were tracked for an average of 4.9 years.

During this time, 4,245 developed cardiovascular disease and had heart attacks or strokes, of which 838 were fatal. 

Two distinct dietary patterns featuring fatty and sugary favourites and which appeared to be linked to a higher risk of heart disease and death emerged from the food diaries.

They are the food favourites found in fridges and cupboards all over Britain. But white bread, butter, jam, fruit juice and chocolate are sending us to an early grave. Experts have identified the staples that make the ‘British diet’ so deadly. They also include sugar sweetened drinks and table sugar [Stock image]

Those whose diets were most closely aligned to one of these patterns were up to 40 per cent more at risk, according to the study published in the journal BMC Medicine.

Dr Carmen Piernas, who worked on the study, said: ‘The most common dietary guidelines are based on the nutrients found in foods rather than foods themselves and this can be confusing for the public.

‘Our findings help identify specific foods and beverages that are commonly eaten in Britain and that may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality.’

‘Cardiovascular disease is one of the main causes of death and disability in the UK and poor diet is a major contributor to this. 

‘Our research suggests that eating less chocolate, confectionery, butter, low-fibre bread, sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit juice, table sugar and preserves could be associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease or death during middle-age.

‘This is consistent with previous research which has suggested that eating foods that contain less sugar and fewer calories may be associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

The researchers from the University of Oxford warn such products are high in calories, fat and sugar and low in fibre and fuel heart disease. They analysed data on 116,806 individuals in the UK who recorded what they ate for a few days and were tracked for an average of 4.9 years [Stock image]

‘The findings of this study could be used to create food-based dietary advice that could help people eat more healthily and reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease.’

The authors caution that the observational nature of the study does not allow for conclusions about a causal relationship between diet, cardiovascular disease and mortality.

Additionally, as dietary data was taken from individual 24 hour assessments rather than a continuous period of time, it may not be representative of participants’ lifetime diets.

The findings are published in the journal BMC Medicine

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